How to stop your ex from popping up in your photo memories

Sometimes you don't want to be reminded.
hands scrolling through photo reel on phone
Dealing with the possibility of running into your ex IRL is bad enough. cottonbro / Pexels

Everyone likes a good throwback, so both Google Photos and Apple Photos use their algorithms to resurface memories from years past.

But there are some images you’re maybe not ready to face or would rather not be reminded of. Maybe you’ve been through a painful break-up, or a loved one passed away, and even though you don’t want to delete these images, you don’t want them popping up on your screen without warning.

If this sounds familiar to you, know that you can select specific people and animals you don’t want your apps to feature in your memories. This works differently from simply hiding the images altogether because they don’t disappear from the other places in your photo library app. That way, when you’re ready to look back, you’ll be able to find your pictures easily.

Google Photos

When Google Photos thinks it’s got an interesting collection of older images to show you, you’ll find them at the top of the Photos tab. Unfortunately, there’s no way to remove a photo that’s already made its way into a memory, but if you want a more curated throwback, you can build your own collages and animations. Choose the pictures you want to add by tapping Library and Utilities.

[Related: Google Photos is better at image editing than you think]

To tell Google Photos about people or pets you don’t want in your memories, tap your profile picture (top right), then choose Photos settings. There, go to Memories and select Hide people and pets. You’ll see a grid of all the people and pets Google Photos has detected in your library—tap on any of them to hide all their images from your recaps. Google Photos will also hide these photos from search, and they won’t show up as options when you make your own collages and animations.

On the Memories screen, you can also pick Hide dates, allowing you to set specific date ranges that you don’t want to see show up. You can add as many as you like, and you can use this feature on its own or in tandem with the ability to hide people and pets.

Google Photos also has a special locked folder for sensitive images you don’t want showing up anywhere else. To send a picture to the locked folder, select it in the app, tap the three dots in the top right corner, then choose Move to Locked Folder. If you haven’t set it up already, Google Photos will prompt you to do that before it moves the image.

Apple Photos

In the iPhone’s Apple Photo, the Memories section shows up at the top of the For You tab. As well as browsing through the collages created by the app, you can make your own: Tap the three dots (top right) on any album, month, or day screen, then choose Play Memory Movie. To hide a photo that has already found its way into a memory, pause the memory when you see the image, tap the three dots, and choose Hide From Memory.

[Related: Apple has a new plan to curb child pornography. Here’s why it’s controversial.]

To preemptively rule out particular photos from appearing in memories, tap Albums and then People. This is where you’ll see the people Apple Photos has automatically identified in your library. Select the person you want to exclude from your memories, tap the three dots, and one of two options. If you pick Feature This Person Less, the app will block all individual images of a person from memories, but they might still appear in group shots. Choose Never Feature This Person and images of them won’t show up at all in your memories. Tap Confirm to finish.

Another option is to hide a photo by browsing to it in Photos, tapping the share button (bottom left), and choosing Hide. This stops an image from showing up in your memories, but it also means it disappears from the main Library tab, from the Albums view, and from search results. To find these images again, tap Albums and then Hidden.